The United States agreed on Wednesday with Iraq to withdraw all combat troops that remain deployed in the country to fight against terrorist organizations., although a small contingent will remain there to carry out training tasks.
“The parties confirmed that the US mission and coalition forces have now made a transition focused on training and counseling.”the countries said in a joint statement after a virtual meeting.
This, they indicated, “allows the redeployment of any combat troops that remain in Iraq, for which the calendar will be established in a future technical dialogue.”
This announcement comes at a time when US forces receive rocket attacks almost daily attributed to Shiite paramilitary militias linked to the Iranian regime. President Joe Biden ordered in retaliation or air strikes against camps of these forces located in Syria.
But the American head of state, in an unusual coincidence with his predecessor, Donald Trump, is looking for how to end a policy known as that of “endless wars.”
Trump had ordered a reduction in the contingent in Iraq and Afghanistan in his last months in power and on January 15 – five days before the end of his term. US troops in each country had been reduced to 2,500.
Former Democratic President Barack Obama ordered the withdrawal of all troops in Iraq, but sent troops again after the brutal offensive by the jihadist group Islamic State (ISIS).
According to the joint statement, “The transition of US forces and other international contingents from combat to training, equipping and assisting the Iraqi Security Forces reflects the success of this strategic partnership.”
Iraq pledged to protect the bases that will continue to house US personnel who, according to Washington, are present “only as support for Iraq’s efforts in the fight against IS.”
This agreement between the two countries comes after two rockets fell last Sunday near the Balad air base, which houses US soldiers north of Baghdad. These latest attacks caused neither damage nor casualties and were not claimed by any organization, but the United States regularly accuses pro-Iran Iraqi groups of attacking its troops and diplomats.
That was the fourteenth attack, including six with rockets, directed against US troops, the US embassy or Iraqi convoys providing logistical support to foreign troops since Biden took office in January.
Two Americans and an Iraqi civilian were killed as a result of those attacks.
An Iraqi civilian working for a US fighter jet maintenance company for the Iraqi air forces was also injured in one of the attacks.
Sometimes these operations are claimed by unknown groups who, according to experts, they are a smokescreen from long-standing Iranian-backed organizations in Iraq.
Qais al Khazali, a senior pro-Iranian official in the state-sponsored Hashed al Shaabi paramilitary force, recently declared that the “resistance” was carrying out attacks and would intensify them “unless the United States withdraws all its fighting forces from all Iraq”.
At the beginning of the month, after a new attack against one of the US bases, the US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd AustinHe warned that his country “will attack if necessary” in retaliation for these attacks.
With information from AFP